Emily Carr, Indian War Dugout (Alert Bay), 1912, oil on cardboard, 65 x 95.5 cm,
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

27 Apr 2020

Around Emily Carr

: national constructions of artistic modernity in Canada and Quebec
by Johanne Lamoureux
The School of Modernities

Emily Carr (1871-1945) was an artist from British Columbia, whose desire to paint soon led her far from her birth place, Victoria, to San Francisco, then to London and finally to Paris and Brittany where she acquired the plastic language for her great pictorial project around totemic poles and native cultures of the West Coast. But back in Canada, the « happy language of modern art » she experienced during her stay in France was so badly received that the artist progressively gave up her project, and painting. Nevertheless, the painted work of Emily Carr, almost a hundred years later, is still a key element in the narrative of Canadian modernity. This status predated rediscoveries made possible by 1970s feminism. But this institutional, then popular recognition has been, from the beginning, motivated by questions about otherness and national assimilation. This presentation will consider how plastic modernities in Canada, then Quebec, were constructed on very different political appropriation narratives that, beyond the 49th north parallel, have shaped the practice and history of contemporary art throughout the 20th century.

Photo © Johanne Lamoureux

Johanne Lamoureux is Professor in the Department of Art History and Film Studies, and Chair of research on Canada in Civic Museology at the University of Montreal. As an independent curator, she co-curated, with Charlie Hill and Ian Thom the rétrospective exhibition « Emily Carr : New perspectives on a Canadian Icon » at the Musée des beaux-Arts du Canada, en 2006.

Lecture in French

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